Let’s face it: we are all a little sleep deprived. We stare at screens from the moment we wake up to the second our head hits the pillow. We work too much and are constantly feeling stressed. All of this can lead to terrible sleep and bad health. Sleep deprivation can not only cause you to be in a bad mood, make you more likely to make bad choices in regards to your health, it can also lead to serious illnesses like type 2 diabetes. Here are some ways to get the sleep you need (aim for a quality 7-9 hours a night):
- Exercise in the morning. Exercising too close to bedtime can keep you up at night. A regular exercise routine can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Even a simple walk in the morning or afternoon can help significantly. The only exercise that can help you sleep right before bed is a gentle yoga routine.
- Check your caffeine habits. Caffeine can stay in your body long after you have that cup of coffee. Stick to caffeine before lunch or opt to green tea, which is a calmer source of caffeine. It also contains theanine which helps you feel less anxious and helps you sleep. If you are a regular insomniac, try avoiding caffeine altogether for a while to see if it helps your sleeping habits. If you can’t give up coffee, don’t drink any after 3 pm.
- Remember the bed time routine you had as a kid? Make a new one for your grown-up self. Turn off electronics an hour before you plan to go to sleep. The light from the screen messes with your brain and keeps you awake. Next, choose a relaxing activity to help you wind down. It could be a bath or shower, using lavender candles or essential oils (the scent promotes relaxation and sleep), drinking caffeine-free tea, doing yoga, reading or journaling. Find what you love and bedtime will become your favorite time of the day.
- Work on becoming more stress free. Stress causes a lot of problems in your life and it could be the reason you’re not getting enough quality sleep. If you toss and turn and can’t turn your mind off, you are probably too stressed. Try a relaxing activity throughout the day and before bed, write down any worries or to-dos before you go to sleep so you’re not thinking about them too much, or try meditation or breathing techniques to calm down before you sleep.
- Don’t go to bed full. Eating too close to bedtime can keep you awake and cause you to have interrupted sleep. If you are extremely hungry before bed, try drinking a glass of water first. Remember to have a quality dinner so you aren’t tempted to snack right before bedtime. Also, remember that while alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, it often means a restless night of sleep. Try to avoid drinking too close to bedtime or drinking too much. You won’t get a quality, restful night’s sleep if your body is working to metabolize all of that alcohol instead of repairing other important functions.
- Lastly, try tracking your sleep. If you have a Fitbit or other activity tracker, often they have capabilities to track your sleeping habits. You can see if you wake up frequently in the night and try to work on what could be causing your insomnia.
How do you ensure you have a good night’s sleep? Do you track your sleep or have insomnia? Share with us your experiences and tips!